FULTON, NY – City leaders are moving the ALDI food store project closer to fruition as the Planning Commission got its first look at the proposed zoning for the former Nestle site on Monday (May 12).
Board member Dennis Merlino summed up the sentiment of the discussion when he said, “We’re making the new face of Fulton.”
Code Enforcement officer Brace Tallents presented the Planning Commission with their task at hand to review and suggest revisions to a proposal set forth by the Common Council on behalf of former Nestle property owner Edward Palmer.
In order for ALDI Inc., or any new business to locate on the property once demolition is complete, “there has to be a zone change,” Tallents explained to the Commission.
In providing the outline for a zone change the Council has proposed a mixed use for the more than 24 acre parcel.
Currently zoned manufacturing, the Code Enforcement officer described the plan put forth to divide the property into three separate use zones. “This is their proposal I’m presenting to you for discussion,” he said.
As an overlay on a survey map titled “Wilbur Park”, prepared by Ianuzi & Romans, dated September 2012, the entire parcel is divided into thirds.
The area between South Fourth and South Fifth Streets, labeled “A” is proposed as zone C2-commercial, to satisfy the proposed plan for ALDI, Inc. to bring a 17,000 square foot food store to the community.
The middle section of the property, from South Fifth Street to South Sixth Street, labeled “B” is suggested to be zoned C1-commercial, according to the map.
“C1 zone is light commercial,” Tallents said. “That means certain things are exempt – it’s a what’s called a neighborhood commercial district.”
Reading from the code book, Tallents outlined some of the allowed uses for C1 zone. “Certain things are exempt – no gas stations … but you can have a grocery store, small retail, bank, church, social club, restaurant, bakery, confectionary, any personal services, laundry, laundromat, any professional offices – medical, dental, engineering, copy center.”
The remainder of the parcel where the property abuts the existing residential area, from South Sixth Street to South Seventh Street, labeled “C” is proposed as an R2 – residential.
Tallents said the R2 designation is being used throughout the city to try and return neighborhoods to owner-occupied housing. “When a property has been vacant for one year it reverts to its original zoning,” he said. “In many cases that’s R1 and R2, owner occupied.”
As board members began to brainstorm recommendations during their regular meeting the body decided to do some community research and workshop their ideas at a special meeting next week.
Tallents reminded the group that ALDI Inc. plans to begin construction July 1, and it would be beneficial for any zone change to have gone through the Common Council and a public hearing before that date.
During the public session of the May 6 Common Council meeting, Planning Commission member Ralph Stacy asked the mayor to address some recent rumors that have circulated within the community “that the ALDI deal is in jeopardy,” Stacy said. “People have noticed that the demolition activity has halted at the plant and are concerned.”
Mayor Ron Woodward said he had not heard that particular rumor until earlier in the day and in response called the developer and the project manager for ALDI Inc.
“Neither one of them have yet heard that rumor,” Woodward said.
He added that one thing that still needs to happen to pave the way for ALDI Inc. to move forward is the buildings need to be demolished.
“Although he’s not tearing buildings down now, they are inside remediating the asbestos so they can take them down,” the mayor said.
Tallents echoed Woodward during Monday’s planning meeting when he said that the asbestos abatement work required a lot of water and now that the winter months have passed crews are back on the site every day.
“They should be finished with the abatement by the end of next week, then you’ll begin to see things happening on the outside again,” the code officer added.
Councilor Tom Kenyon also conveyed complete confidence that the grocery retailer was committed to Fulton.
“They want a store every 15 miles from each other,” Kenyon said. “ALDI’s will not walk away.”